Sightings for January 2014

January 31st

Wick Floods
Wick Fields under water – Clinton Whale
Tomorrow sees a 2.0m high at 09:30, which combined with the incoming river water,
could make traversing many parts of the area very difficult indeed.

Before the midday and onwards deluge set in, there were some elements of fieldwork undertaken. A couple of Black-tailed Godwit on Priory Marsh are incredibly the first record of that species for year and come just in time to avoid what would have been an unprecedented blank month! There are several hundred, if not more, just a few miles north in the more attractive freshwater floods of the Avon Valley, however. Also about the northern end of Stanpit, a Grey Wagtail and a single Chiffchaff, while 5 Rock Pipit were by the visitor’s centre. From early until 11:30, the sea produced 2 Black-throated Diver, 23 Red-throated Diver and 2 Red-breasted Merganser west; meanwhile, the Black Redstart was again at the southern end of the Beach Huts, 2 Raven passed over and a Kingfisher was in Barn Bight.

January 30th

A Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh again this morning, where up to 5 Chiffchaff were also present, plus a single Grey Wagtail and over 30 Meadow Pipit. A couple of decent records for Stanpit comprised of a Golden Plover and a couple of Goosander, the latter heading upriver, while 3 Grey Plover were also logged. Elsewhere, 3 Red-breasted Merganser went east past Mudeford Quay, with 25 Purple Sandpiper and a Sanderling there, and 4 Redpoll were in the area of Holloway’s Dock.

January 29th

In addition to two small grebes that headed west past Mudeford Quay, the sea produced all 3 divers this morning - 2 Black-throated Diver, 11 Red-throated Diver and 2 Great Northern Diver were seen from Hengistbury, while a further 3 Red-throated Diver moved west off the quay. At Stanpit, a ‘Scandinavian’ Rock Pipit was present and the Spotted Redshank increased to 2 birds, along with 3 Grey Plover, 56 Ringed Plover and 280 Dunlin, as well as over 30 Turnstone across the area. Other bits-and-pieces for the day, include a Brambling and 11 Redpoll on Hengistbury, the Treecreeper in the Wood and a Kingfisher on Fisherman’s Bank.

Additional news: the Black Redstart was at the end of Hengistbury.

January 28th

Kestrel – Corinne Yarwood

The only report for the day comes from the afternoon on Priory Marsh, when a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher were present; in addition to 19 Meadow Pipit and 12 Pied Wagtail. 

January 27th

There was interest throughout the day: firstly, a Black-necked Grebe was settled off the Beach Huts and then headed west this morning, when 2 Firecrest were in the Wood just east of the Nursery and the Black Redstart fed on the beach at the end of the head; at lunchtime, a Sandwich Tern and the Spotted Redshank were in Stanpit Creek; then this afternoon, a Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh and 3 Chiffchaff were along the Stanpit golf course embankment. For the first time in several days, the small waders at Stanpit were counted and came to 260 or so Dunlin and 45 Ringed Plover, while the Brent Goose came in at 265 and a Goldeneye briefly circuited the area. The sea was again relatively quiet - 4 Red-throated Diver, 2 Kittiwake, 2 Gannet and several auks, all west - but at least one Redpoll, 3 Redwing and the Treecreeper were on Hengistbury. 

January 26th

Purple Sandpiper
Purple Sandpiper – Clinton Whale

Right on cue, just before 8:00, the heavens opened and continued in that vein until mid-afternoon. This made the area largely unbirdable, other than from Mudeford Quay, but that came up with just a diver sp., 15-20 Purple Sandpiper and the litter scavenging presumed pair of Raven. Later on, a trip to the sandspit produced a similar number of sandpiper, a handful of Ringed Plover and 60 Dunlin.

January 25th

It was a glorious day for the greater part, but the wind got up during the afternoon and brought showers with it - a prelude to a forecast, dismal day tomorrow. Despite the pleasant conditions birds were hard to come by, save for 7 Chiffchaff on the golf course embankment at Stanpit, plus 7 Redpoll and 12 Redwing towards the end of Hengistbury, where the Black Redstart was again present. The sea was hopeless, with just the settled thirty or so Common Scoter, a Great Crested Grebe and an auk to show for up to 2-hours' efforts. The warm temperatures did inspire song, however, the most noticeable being Song Thrush, Skylark and Great Tit, while the Nursery cameras show that Grey Heron are a little more progressed in their goings-on.

January 24th

There is little news from a damp day,  but what we do have is not without interest. Just after 8:30, an adult Iceland Gull flew into the harbour over Mudeford Quay, but couldn't be subsequently relocated. Meanwhile, during the searching, an Avocet was feeding off the tip of South Marsh. 

January 23rd

Columbus Crab
Columbus Crab, Planes minutus – Chris Dresh
Columbus Crabs are very poorly known in European waters, the main population appears to be in the western Atlantic, from the eastern United States to Uruguay, but especially in the Sargasso Sea. An area sometimes referred to as "The Bermuda Triangle". More details...
There is little to report for today, save for: a Black-throated Diver east past Mudeford Quay; a Black Redstart at the end of Hengistbury, plus a Treecreeper in the Wood there; and a Chiffchaff at Stanpit.

January 22nd

Off Mudeford Quay this morning, a Red-necked Grebe drifted slowly east towards Avon Beach, while a couple of Water Pipit were on Priory Marsh and 4 Pochard headed south over Stanpit. Later on, the first-winter Little Gull was again seen on Priory Marsh. The pick of the waders around the marsh were 2 Jack Snipe, but also 44 Ringed Plover and 146 Dunlin; as well as singles of Pintail and Shelduck, 9 Skylark, a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher. Just meters outside of the recording area, but probably viewable from within, a male Blackcap was in gardens at Wick Farm. 

January 21st

Hengistbury sky
Morning sky from Hengistbury – Colin Raymond

There was a real selection of wildfowl around the harbour today, with a Goosander seen from Stanpit and 9 Pochard, plus another settled in Barn Bight, 10 Shelduck, 7 Pintail, 4 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Greylag Geese and the Brent Goose count was 275.  A Marsh Harrier was seen from both Stanpit and from the Wooden Bridge on Wick, while the Little Gull was still on Priory Marsh. Waders today included: a Purple Sandpiper on the groynes, a Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and 5 Grey Plover on Stanpit, 24 Snipe on Wick Meadows and harbour totals of 240 Dunlin and 36 Ringed Plover. A Red-throated Diver moved east past the Beach Huts, while 2 Raven travelled in the opposite direction and a Kingfisher was off Fisherman's Bank. Around lunchtime, a Water Pipit was on Central Marsh by the Rusty Boat; also a Grey Wagtail there and one of the wintering Chiffchaff was in the North Scrubs. A late afternoon sea watch from the quay was well worth it with singles of Great Skua and Velvet Scoter, plus 5 Great Crested Grebe, all east; then heading west were 12 Kittiwake,  a Fulmar and a Red-throated Diver, while the settled Common Scoter flock numbered thirty-five.
Check back to yesterday for late news.

January 20th

The only news so far is from the Stanpit side of the harbour, where on a fine morning the first Buzzard of the year was mobbed by corvids as it passed over Central Marsh.  The Brent Goose flock numbered 272, while on the tip of East Marsh the high tide roost of waders held 180 Dunlin, 35 Ringed Plover and 5 Grey Plover. Although not strictly within confines of the harbour, a Peregrine was watched from Stanpit as it perched on The Priory tower. Finally, 5 Linnet were on the marsh this morning.

Late news: The Little Gull was again over Priory Marsh until late afternoon while earlier the re-emergence of East Marsh saw the return of the Spotted Redshank.

January 19th

Turnstone – Clinton Whale
Dunlin – Clinton Whale

Other than a short, sharp shower just before lunch, the weather was more than accommodating right throughout the day. In terms of birds, during the morning, a Red-necked Grebe was on the sea off the sandspit, while a Marsh Harrier that quartered Central Marsh very briefly disturbed a Bittern from the reeds there. In addition, the first-winter Little Gull was again feeding over Priory Marsh, a redhead Goosander was on the Hengistbury river bank and a Black Redstart was at the end of the head. Later, on the ebbing tide as Stanpit once more became accessible, there were 2 Water Pipit along Grimmery Bank. Earlier, the high-water floods had concentrated the Skylark about the marsh into a flock of eleven, 25 Turnstone were on the sandspit, a couple of Grey Plover were inside the harbour and Kingfisher were seen in Stanpit Creek and at Priory Marsh.  

January 18th

Goose Barnacles
Goose Barnacles, not a common sight in the area,
on the Hengistbury strandline – David Barton

A day of south-easterly breeze had more than a few moments of interest inside the harbour. During the morning, singles of both Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier - a ringtail and a female-type respectively - were seen from Hengistbury; while the afternoon at Stanpit produced a Ruff on East Marsh and a Little Gull hawking over Priory Marsh. The sea was disappointing, however, coming up with just 2 Red-throated Diver, a Red-breasted Merganser, 30 Common Scoter and 14 Guillemot. Elsewhere, there were 15 Purple Sandpiper on the tip of the sandspit, a Sanderling on the harbour shore, a Treecreeper in the Wood and 2 Raven over. Meanwhile, the camera feeds to the excellent, new Hengistbury Centre are showing activity on 2 Grey Heron nests - one of which also attracted an inquisitive Stock Dove that was no doubt given the quick heave-ho. 

Additional news: the Spotted Redshank was at Stanpit.

January 17th

Redshank – Alan Hayden
Brent Goose
...and Brent Goose on Stanpit – Clinton Whale

The only news for the day comes from Mudeford Quay, which enjoyed a Great Skua, 2 Little Gull and 15 Kittiwake, all west. 

January 16th

With a strong south-westerly bringing a succession of squally showers this morning, and in fact throughout the day, the sea received coverage from both Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts. A Little Gull moved west past the quay with another bird, a first-winter, heading into the harbour some time later. Otherwise, the combined totals were 19 Red-throated Diver, 33 Kittiwake, 10 Guillemot and 2 Shoveler, all west, plus 35 Common Scoter on the sea. Another 4 Shoveler and a lone Shelduck were on Stanpit, where both East Marsh and South Marsh were under water. From the Beach Huts singles of Purple Sandpiper and Sanderling were seen, while the Black Redstart was still present. Finally, a Herring Gull of the Scandinavian race, argentatus, was around the quay this afternoon.

January 15th

Unfortunately, there is no news today.

January 14th

Amongst a group of four or five Rock Pipit on Stanpit today there was a bird of the Scandinavian form, littoralis. There was also a Linnet, a species not common in the winter, plus a couple of Chiffchaff, a Kingfisher on the Purewell stream and a Grey Wagtail on Priory Marsh. The Brent Goose flock was estimated at 270. The only report from Hengistbury is of 40 Common Scoter and 70 Wigeon on the sea, also 11 Turnstone on the groynes. A mid afternoon visit to the quay saw a group of 12 Purple Sandpiper move from Avon Beach towards the harbour while counts from Fisherman's Bank were 60 Dunlin, 30 Ringed Plover, 5 Shelduck and a Grey Plover.

January 13th

On a fine morning with a little sunshine the highlight was a Balearic Shearwater, the first of the year; the bird moved west past Mudeford Quay, also a Red-breasted Merganser past there and a Black-throated Diver on the sea.  Another 'first for the year' was a Yellow-legged Gull, a second winter bird on the car park at the quay.  Bearded Tit were heard 'pinging' from both sides of the harbour while a Water Pipit was on Priory Marsh and 5 Chiffchaff were about the area.

January 12th

Purple Sandpiper
A Purple Sandpiper on the end of the sandspit - Chris Dresh

The weather wasn’t quite as expected - a strong, unpleasant south-easterly and dense, grey cloud. The sea was watched early and late morning, from Mudeford Quay and the Beach Huts respectively - with the pick being 2 Velvet Scoter west on the first shift and a Great Skua plus a lingering, first-winter Little Gull on the second. Also logged were: a medium-sized grebe sp., 3 Great Crested Grebe, 10 Red-throated Diver, a Mediterranean Gull and a Red-breasted Merganser, as well as a handful of Kittiwake, auks, Gannet and Common Gull. Otherwise, it’s just 2 Purple Sandpiper on the end of the sandspit to remark upon.

January 11th

Dartford Warbler
Dartford Warbler enjoying the sun this morning – Alan Crockard

On what turned out to be a warm, clear and relatively still day, there were pieces of interest from both sides of the harbour. At Stanpit, there were singles of Merlin and Jack Snipe, as well as 3 Chiffchaff; while Hengistbury contributed, 2 Velvet Scoter, a couple of singletons west, the 2 Black Redstart around the south-eastern cliff and a Sandwich Tern east past Double Dykes. Also on the move at sea, 3 Pintail, 4 Shelduck and a Razorbill. The regular, winter Saturday displacement of wildfowl from the Avon Valley and out to sea included an impressive 100 or so Shoveler, as well as the expected other dabbling duck species. To wrap up, a Redpoll was heard by Holloway’s Dock and a Mediterranean Gull was inside the harbour. 

January 10th

Black Redstart
There may actually be 3 Black Redstart wintering on Hengistbury – Alan Crockard

Although Stanpit is still not for those who don’t like the odd paddle, the marsh was visited today. A Snow Bunting loudly circled Crouch Hill before appearing to head off towards the Barn Field on Hengistbury. In addition, there were two settled Water Pipit, Bearded Tit calling in Central Marsh and the Spotted Redshank was present-and-correct. On Hengistbury, at least 2 Black Redstart were seen - one frequenting groyne S4 and the other further towards Long Groyne - 4 Purple Sandpiper were around and, sadly, a sickly Guillemot has been sitting on the tideline for a day or so now. The rest of the news concerns: 56 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plover roosting the tide on the sandspit; plus 11 Shelduck on East Marsh and a Kingfisher along Fisherman’s Bank.

January 9th

Swallow over Mudeford Quay - Alan Cherry
Curlew – Alan Crockard

So that’s two almost completely dry days on the run, and conditions were balmy enough to give rise to a Swallow! The bird was feeding amongst the huts on the sandspit during the afternoon, as well as sometimes venturing to Avon Beach over Mudeford Quay. One may recall there was a record late last year of an individual over the quay, which was described to us as having a broken tail streamer - looking at the photos above, it seems the hardy soul may somehow have survived the recent, atrocious weather. Also on the sandspit, 2 Black Redstart and 3 Purple Sandpiper, while a couple of Little Gull passed by there and the best at Stanpit was a pale-bellied Brent Goose with 272 conventional birds and a Water Pipit. Also on the marsh, a drake Pintail, a Grey Wagtail with over 55 Pied Wagtail, the year’s first Fieldfare and the semi-regular juvenile Peregrine. Early in the day, a modest number of Red-throated Diver - 9 birds - were seen from Hengistbury, along with a Fulmar, 7 Kittiwake and around 30 Common Scoter. Much later, 26 Rook headed to roost in the Nursery, 2 Kingfisher were at Stanpit and the Treecreeper remained in the Wood.

January 8th

House Sparrow
House Sparrow – Chris Dresh
Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail – Alan Hayden

A marked improvement in the weather saw most areas within the recording range visited today. The highlights from across the ‘region’ were: a Firecrest in the Wood; one, but possibly two, Black Redstart on the sandspit; an adult Little Gull moving between Mudeford Quay and Avon Beach; and a Water Pipit, a Golden Plover and the Spotted Redshank at Stanpit. Meanwhile, also from the quay were 7 adult Mediterranean Gull behaving as if they may have roosted just offshore last night and 3 Red-throated Diver east; while up to 15 Common Scoter were settled on the water. A couple of Chiffchaff were by the Civic Offices and waders around the area included the year’s first Sanderling, that from Fisherman’s Bank, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 31 Ringed Plover and 55 Dunlin. To round up, 3 Shoveler and 14 Shelduck were present and a Peregrine hunted and then headed north. Please check back to yesterday for some additional news.

January 7th

The only news so far comes from Mudeford Quay, but contains some items of quality - namely, a Velvet Scoter and a Little Gull - as well as 25 Kittiwake.

Additional news: a Great Skua was hunting offshore from Mudeford Quay, where a Red-breasted Merganser and a further 32 Kittiwake passed. Inside the harbour, there were a couple of Water Pipit at Stanpit, a drake Shoveler, 15 Greylag Goose and 29 Canada Goose. In the evening, around 8:00, a Tawny Owl was calling by Two Riversmeet.

January 6th

Mediterranean Gull Mediterranean Gull
Mediterranean Gull – Alan Hayden
...the sorry sight of an oiled Kittiwake off Mudeford Quay – Alan Hayden
Dunlin & Ringed Plover
...and Dunlin & Ringed Plover at roost on the sandspit – Chris Roughley

Another varying day of rain, wind and colours of sky. Early on, a Little Auk was seen to come down on the water off Mudeford Quay, but subsequently trying to scope something the size of a Starling in the offshore swell was an impossible task. Meanwhile, 12 Red-throated Diver headed into The Solent. Then, during the afternoon, at least 2 Little Gull were seen from the quay, while Kittiwake and auks were still present but in far lesser numbers than of late. To finish on the water, quite inexplicably a Little Grebe was bobbing about on the sea! Inside the harbour, the pre-roost gathering of gulls was particularly impressive - as usual, Black-headed Gull dominated  but the conditions also saw singles of Little Gull and Kittiwake joining them, as well as 5 Mediterranean Gull. At least one Chiffchaff was by the Civic Offices and the Spotted Redshank was again off Fisherman’s Bank.

January 5th

Kestrel – Alan Hayden
...and the dawn skies over Christchurch Bay
giving a warning of what was to come – Colin Raymond

After a crystal clear night that saw a light frost, the cloud quickly took over and started to shed its load around midday, from when on it failed to stop. A Black Redstart was on the sandspit close to the Beach House cafe, while the WeBS count got off to a good start with a drake Goosander on the river by the HHC. A look at the sea from the two normal watchpoints yielded: a Great Skua east, up to 15 Red-throated Diver, 4 Gannet and 3 Razorbill; as well as a Peregrine incoming from the island and 33 settled Common Scoter. From a wader perspective, the best of the WeBS was the Spotted Redshank and 16 Purple Sandpiper, but also 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 12 Grey Plover, 52 Ringed Plover, 167 Dunlin and 14 Turnstone. The fact that Stanpit has been largely submerged for nearly 2-weeks now may account for the paltry Wigeon count of 175, but Teal held steady at 120, possibly because they are less of a grazer? Meanwhile, 17 Shelduck were locally unexpected for the date, 10 Pintail overflew and the Brent Goose numbered 275 when the tide allowed them to feed on East Marsh. Finally, a couple of Kingfisher were around Fisherman’s Bank. 

January 4th

Despite this morning's deluge a few hardy souls made it to the Beach Huts, while one or two others sought the relative sanctuary of Mudeford Quay.  Highlights were 5 adult Little Gull off the quay and 3 Great Skua, two from the huts and one in the bay.  Other combined totals were: 248 Kittiwake, 60 Guillemot, 8 Gannet, 7 Red-throated Diver, 4 Razorbill and a Great Crested Grebe, all these birds moved west. There were also around 40 Common Scoter on the sea and 14 Purple Sandpiper on the groynes.  The 2 Raven were present and 3 Redpoll were on Hengistbury.

Additional news: Black Redstart was on sandspit groyne S8.

January 3rd

Little Gull
Little Gull
Little Gull
Adult Little Gull showing upperwing and underwing pattern, plus size comparison
against a young Black-headed Gull  – Alan Hayden
Mudeford Quay
...and a portion of Mudeford Quay under water – Barrie Taylor

It was something of a mixed bag of weather throughout the day - periods of clear blue skies that were equalled by quite violent wind, rain, thunder and lightening. Naturally, Mudeford Quay was the centre of attention, where the pick was a Long-tailed Duck in the morning and an Arctic Skua in the afternoon, both heading into The Solent. The early period also witnessed 800 Kittiwake, 200 auks, presumably by recent standards nearly all Guillemot, and 4 Fulmar west, while a Red-breasted Merganser headed the same way later in the day. Divers are always tricky in rough conditions, so the day’s return for these is just 2 Red-throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver. Also from the quay, 9 Purple Sandpiper, 8 Common Scoter and 2 Raven. The high waters have seen the northern extremes of Wick Fields receive some flooding, such that 4 Brent Goose were wandering about in the horse paddock there. 

January 2nd

Avocet on South Marsh – Alan Hayden
There was a decent winter number of Stonechat at Stanpit today – Alan Hayden
...and about as far as the water receded around Crouch Hill – Alan Hayden

As the conditions calmed, there were far fewer gulls around Christchurch Bay this morning - for example, just 10-15 Kittiwake - although the environment was far better for observing divers. From the Beach Huts and Mudeford Quay, a Black-throated Diver, a Great Northern Diver and 22 Red-throated Diver headed west, while flocks of three and four of the latter were far less certain of their intentions. In addition, a Red-breasted Merganser, a Mediterranean Gull, 5 Gannet, 70 Guillemot and 2 Razorbill also moved down-channel. At the end of Hengistbury, a settled Brambling was something of a surprise, but a single Firecrest less so. Meanwhile, there were 2 Avocet at Stanpit, along with a Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Ringed Plover and 80 Dunlin; where 4 Stonechat is a good count for the season, 8 Shoveler were present and a lone Raven passed over.

January 1st

Gull Flock
There was a gathering of gulls, mainly Black-headed Gull,
off Mudeford Quay this afternoon – Alan Hayden
...but also a few Kittiwake – Alan Hayden
Little Gull
Little Gull
...and 3 Little Gull – Alan Hayden
Mudeford Quay
...while vehicles were tending to avoid the usually sought after front row spots – Barrie Taylor

Happy New Year!
It was almost a complete write-off today, as the area was battered by constant wind and heavy rain. In fact, if it wasn’t for the vehicular convenience of Mudeford Quay there would certainly be nothing to report. During the morning, a Great Skua moved west and a drake Goldeneye, the first of the winter, arrived and headed into the harbour, as did 2 Teal; while after lunch, 3 adult Little Gull fed in The Run with a gathering of other small-to-medium sized gulls. After the last few days of wind, one senses that Kittiwake are starting to feel the effect - birds are now feeding very close inshore and, on occasion, taking rest on the tarmac and lawns of the quay. Just one Purple Sandpiper was seen, but Turnstone were reckoned at thirty-four. 

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